Taking a shot at the sport of pickleball

Although I’ve never been an active athlete, after my recent experience I wouldn’t be opposed to picking up a paddle

Pickleball pupil: Observer reporter Chelsea Grainger returns a ball during her first-time experience with the game of pickleball.

Pickleball pupil: Observer reporter Chelsea Grainger returns a ball during her first-time experience with the game of pickleball.

Although I’ve never been an active athlete, after my recent experience I wouldn’t be opposed to picking up a paddle and heading to a pickle ball court every now and then.

I tried my luck with the new sport at the pickleball open house at Club Shuswap on July 22.

Putting aside my shame about my flailing limbs and lack of coordination, I genuinely had a good time. I took to the court and, with the help of long-time player Bruce Barnard, learned the game.

A combination of ping-pong, tennis and badminton, pickleball is played with two to four players using paddles to hit a wiffle ball over the net and across the court.

The teams take turns serving underhand from behind the baseline and volleying the ball back and fourth. Points are scored when the opposing team fails to return the ball, the ball goes out of bounds, or any player steps into what is known as the “kitchen zone,” which is a marked off area seven feet from each side of the net.

The first team to score 11 points wins.

What I first noticed about the game was how light the pickeball paddles were. They resemble kind of an oversized ping pong paddle, and although light and airy, they were also solid.

All four newly minted courts were packed, and I can see why.

Pickleball is really a fun time. Simple yet challenging, the victorious ping you hear when the ball makes contact with the paddle (in my case, very rarely), is enough to bring out anybody’s competitive side.

“It has a nice pop to it,” said Linda Brown, ambassador for Pickleball Canada.

The sport involved a lot of running back and forth, and you need to be quick on your feet in order to volley the ball. I found it a little tricky to keep track of the score, as I was mostly trying to find my footing on the court, but that didn’t take away from the fun I had.

Another thing I noticed at the open house was the friendliness and camaraderie of everyone involved.

Everyone from beginner to advanced can play the sport and have a good time, and although it’s still a sport, its never too much of a maddening experience if you miss a hit of the ball or it rolls out of bounds.

At the end of each game, all players meet in the middle and, tapping the ends of their paddles, do a simplified method of shaking hands.

The pickleball club in Salmon Arm boasts more 100 members, and the courts were finished in the spring of last year.

We all love the sport,” said Brown. “It’s like we have a pickle ball family.”

All in all, I think pickle ball is good game. No matter if you play competitively or are a casual beginner like me, the game is guaranteed to make you work up a sweat and have fun.